In its North American four-day opening weekend, it grossed a record-breaking US$107.2 million (S$143.06M) in receipts, making it the largest opening ever for a drama. This film is none other than Best Picture Oscar nominee American Sniper, which sees 84-year-old veteran filmmaker Clint Eastwood back in the director’s chair.

A biopic on the late sniper Chris Kyle, as based on his autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the film sees Bradley Cooper in the titular role of Chris. Known for 160 kills during his four tours in the Iraq War, Chris was the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history.

Cooper embodies the mindset of Chris convincingly well. His tenacity in saving fellow comrades, on top of his eagle-eyed accuracy and calm disposition, directly leads to a constant accumulation of kills as a sniper. On the other hand, the intense emphasis he places on war causes him to lose focus on other aspects of life, which shows in his mannerisms that are clearly affected when it comes to family.

Sienna Miller plays his wife, Taya Kyle, who faces the brunt of his insouciance towards her at home, even after they have kids together. She worries for his health and well being, and gradually becomes desperate for attention. Even then, Chris is not responsive to her regardless of what she does. Miller may not be memorable in her role, but she certainly exerts a strong supporting presence to Cooper.

Eastwood’s portrayal of war from the perspective of a sniper is realistic, and he handles the tension with expertise. He maintains a constant, continuous flow through the many scenes over the 2-hour duration and strikes a fine balance of the development between Chris’ family and the war itself.

As with any war film that depicts hostility between nations, the political views expressed in American Sniper are, unsurprisingly, heavily pro-American. The subtle undertones are easily masked by the dynamic action scenes playing out onscreen. Besides the point-blank accuracy, it could be hard to relate to the incidents shown. Hence, given the context of the film, it may resonate less among non-American viewers.

Like any war film, shootouts and explosions are expected. American Sniper presents a context of stark contrast – a calm, patient, sharp-eyed shooter in the US Navy SEAL. Aided by the performances from a competent pair of actors, a renowned director, a compelling script and seamless editing, American Sniper is the ideal military-based war film that showcases patriotism at its best.

With its six nominations in the 2015 Academy Awards, American Sniper is poised to generate copious amounts of media buzz in the ongoing awards season that would support it in theatres worldwide, pro-American or otherwise.

American Sniper is now showing in theatres.

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Genre: Action, Biography, Drama
Running time: 132 minutes
Classification: M18 – Violence & Coarse Language
Rating: 3.5/5